My name is Zachary Lipari, and this is my first post on SportsAgentBlog.com.
So you want to work in sports? You’ve put in the days, the months, and the years into getting yourself ready to be a productive member of the sports industry. You have recently graduated college, maybe even with an industry specific degree in sports management. In some cases, you even went out and got yourself a fancy post graduate degree and now you are ready to take on the challenge of working in the sports industry. If this sounds like you and you are currently gainfully employed in the same sports industry you set out to conquer during these ever important early years of your professional career, then consider yourself a lucky member of the minority. The majority, on the other hand, is the ever expanding group of young sports industry prospects who have a lot to offer, but no one willing to take a chance on them. I am a part of this majority, and in this case, it is definitely better not to be running with the crowd.
I am 24 years of age, have a bachelor’s degree in sports management, and have held 3 different internship positions since graduating in 2007. I have interned for a sports and entertainment public relations firm, an up-start NFL agent, and most recently a sports event hospitality company. I believe internships are a great way to learn more about the industry you want to be in, but like anything else, they have their pros and cons. An obvious pro is that you can learn and gain experience in the industry you have wanted so much to be a part of. This isn’t as fool proof as one may like; however, since you will find companies who only value their interns as a means to input data and nothing else. On the other hand, you also may be lucky and work for a company who splits up the boring, tedious work that you are most definitely supposed to be doing at this stage of your career with actual company matters that require creative thoughts and ideas to stimulate your mind and give you the real experience you can use down the line. I have had the opportunity to intern in both types of settings and have a real appreciation for companies who value their internship programs. But what if you are in the type of situation where your voice isn’t being heard…ever? Well, that is where you have to make your own luck and figure out a way to do what is necessary to be noticed.
My personal motto for all work situations is to treat everyday like it is an interview. I learned this from the NFL agent I interned with for over a year and I try and do my best to keep that kind of enthusiasm and commitment day in and day out no matter how unglamorous the tedious work for the day might be. The one thing that every internship has in common is that it is a foot in the door. Getting that foot in the door is hard enough and you want to make the most out of it because things could suddenly open up, and if you have made yourself an indispensable part of the office and have shown great effort, then you could be in line for a promotion and subsequently a place in the sports industry. An internship also provides you with experience for your resume and can be a great way to make connections and grow your network.
Your network might be your most important asset in the sports industry. I recently spoke with someone who has the job I want at the company I would like to work for, in order to try and gain some perspective and advice. What I learned from him is that connections trump all. He had worked in the industry for a few years, graduated high in his class and obtained his MBA, but was convinced all of that was peanuts compared to connections he had made, one of which was with his boss that led to him getting his job. When this person said, “I’m convinced my boss doesn’t ever look at resumes” I rethought my game plan and refocused it on networking and selling myself as a person, because there are countless people out there, some of you included, with more impressive resumes than me and I need to separate myself from the gathering herd of applicants. You should be doing the same thing. Sell yourself, get creative and come up with your own game plan to follow.
Don’t get discouraged. Get hungry. If this is something you want and you are passionate about it and can afford to maybe work a night job for a few years so you can spend your days working for free towards your goal, then do it. I personally need to be doing something I’m passionate about to be effective, and I love sports. I’ve been told to maybe work a job in a different industry and figure it out later, but the time is always now to do what you love and the road isn’t always an easy one. It is easy to get down on yourself if you, like me, have had a little trouble climbing the corporate ladder, but know that you’re not alone. In the mean time, keep yourself sharp and try to make yourself stand out, but try not to take any jobs from me!